II: WR Tutu Atwell
Another missing-in-action offensive player this season has been wide receiver Tutu Atwell, and that mystifies me as well. Yes, Atwell's size is a limiting factor in how often he plays in the Rams' offense, but he was drafted with those limitations already well-documented. Furthermore, when Cooper Kupp was absent in the first four games of the season due to injury, Atwell picked up the slack.
In those first four games of the 2023 NFL season, Tutu Atwell caught 22 of 35 passes thrown his way for 270 yards and a touchdown. Since that early burst, he has only been targeted 28 more times, catching 15 more passes for 206 yards and two more touchdowns. I don't believe that Atwell has been injured or any less effective. The LA Rams simply threw the football in other directions, to other receivers.
That should change in Week 18. Atwell played a superb game against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 2, catching seven of nine passes thrown his way for 77 yards. He even added a run for five yards in the game. Atwell was so effective because, quite simply, he is faster that the 49ers defensive backs. And much like a change-of-pace running back can catch defenses napping a bit, his ability to race downfield pushes the secondary to devote a second defensive back to cover the deep ball.
His lightning fast speed opens up the thunderous strides of RB Royce Freeman.
Atwell has been targeted just three times in the past four games, and has been completely ignored in the Rams offense in the past two games. While the Rams have continued to win, Atwell is long overdue to be a positive factor, and I believe that happens in Week 18.
The Rams offense proved that Tutu Atwell can be a dangerous and productive receiver for the LA Rams. The Rams offense also proved that they can put up points without Atwell's inclusion in the game plan. I believe that Atwell will reclaim a contributing role in the Rams offense this week, and do so in a big way.